Fresh off hosting E-40 in Pauley Ballroom for the Getting Your Bearings concert back in August, ASUC SUPERB is back — this time with their full concert lineup. While this year’s artists may not bring legendary status or tote high-profile names, each has proven themselves phenomenal performers, and so there’s plenty of reason to get excited for this semester.
Friday, Sept. 22: SUPERB X AASD Student Group Showcase featuring Kamau
5-9 p.m. (music from 7-9 p.m.)
First on the lineup after E-40 is a show hosted in partnership with the African American Student Development Center. Together, SUPERB and AASD will host Kamau on Sept. 22 from 7-9 p.m. on Upper Sproul. His latest album, TheKAMAU-CASSETTE: ŭRTH GōLD almost transcends its rap label — a blend of meandering and energetic instrumentals lend a delicious color to each track, as does a resonant falsetto that peeks out from between the cracks of the different rap verses. There’s a certain sense of forward movement within the lyricism, as if Kamau is gently propelling us through the song with each couplet. His sound is fresh, fun and anything but more of the same — and his show promises to accomplish a similar allure. The concert is a part of the campus’s celebration of Student Group Day, and Kamau’s headlining act will be bolstered by several other group performances as well.
Thursday, Oct. 5: Big Thief
Anna Head Alumnae Hall
Big Thief is an indie-rock/indie-folk band from New York, so you know it’ll be bringing heavily nostalgic, wonderfully romantic tunes to Anna Head in early October. The band released its first album, Masterpiece — a name that accurately reflects the soft buzz, milky guitar and ethereal vocals that still define the band’s discography — only last year. Singer-guitarist Adrianne Lenker’s lyrics and captivating vocals are no doubt the highlight of Big Thief’s sound, casting an achingly stunning cloud on the intimate landscape of the album — and live performances as well. The band performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk last year. Since then, the band has released several singles and a second album titled Capacity.
Capacity, released this year, reflects more sonic clarity while highlighting a grittier side of Lenker’s voice, as well as a stronger presence from drummer James Krivchenia. The album showcases a more energetic side of Big Thief, without sacrificing the storytelling nature of Lenker’s lyrics — as the band proved at South by Southwest this year. “Mythological Beauty[,]” is perhaps the best example of Big Thief’s sentimental energy, as it captures Lenker’s poeticism at its best, as well as the band’s atmospheric tone — like light, majestic snow falling on our undeserving ears.
Saturday, October 21: Mykki Blanco
With a most-played track of over 1.5 million listens on Spotify, rapper and performance artist Mykki Blanco is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Blanco cites legends such as Marilyn Manson, Lauryn Hill, Rihanna and Lil’ Kim (whose alter ego Kimmy Blanco was the inspiration for Blanco’s own name) as major artistic influences — and their impacts are palpable in Blanco’s tracks. Songs such as “Wish You Would” (featuring Princess Nokia) and “Loner” almost harken back to 90s hip-hop; they bring an infectious retro edge to the contemporary rap.
Blanco arrived on the music scene in 2012 with EP Mykki Blanco & the Mutant Angels, which is inspired by some of Blanco’s own poetry. The music is heavily associated with queercore genres as well as the punk-based riot grrrl movement, but it is even more deeply rooted in Blanco’s relationship with possessing an alter ego and how one balances authenticity with a performative persona. Blanco’s show will take place on Upper Sproul from 5-7 p.m. on October 21 and will almost certainly be an experience you won’t want to miss.
Thursday November 16: The Garden
Upper Sproul Plaza
The Garden is a duo of punk brothers, Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, from Southern California. The pair released its first album with Burger Records in 2012. The EP, also titled The Garden, reflects the label’s DIY sound with light fuzz and heavy basslines. Later that year, leaving its early works’ distortion behind, The Garden released a second EP, entitled Everything is Perfect — which established the band’s grungy, underground sound that permeated its first LP, The Life and Times of a Paperclip, released the following year.
The Life and Times of a Paperclip features dense percussion and whiny vocals that defined several ‘90s garage punk bands. The duo is certainly able to tap into this generation’s nostalgia for that era — the Nirvana era that many fans of The Garden were born into and thus never got to experience firsthand — and rightfully so. The Garden’s sound is synonymous with rule-bending, or something it calls “Vada Vada” — “a term that represents total freedom of expression without boundaries or guidelines of any sort,” according to its website. Since signing to Epitaph Records in 2015, the band has released haha and, most recently, U Want the Scoop? — both reflective of an even more punk- and noise-oriented sound from the band, particularly in tracks like “All Smiles Over Here :)” off of haha. The band’s latest releases are sure to hook audiences live, with chant-able lyrics that are prime head-banging material. Is there any better way to face your mid-semester woes?